Summary: When God defined marriage as one man and one woman committed to each other for life, for mutual support and the procreation of children, He did that because it is best for the man, the woman, the children and society as a whole.

20th Sunday in Course 2015

Wisdom has set up her seven pillars. In ancient architecture, pillars were the support of the roof, which protected the household. You’ve heard the names of these pillars, because they are the support of what protects us, individually and as a community. Why seven? In the Hebrew, seven is shevah, derived from savah, which is a word for completion, perfection. There are seven because that is enough. We call these pillars, in our individual lives, gifts of the Holy Spirit. They are the gifts God gives us to help us become the best versions of ourselves. Their names are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

Today I want to share with you some thoughts about the gift of counsel. Remember, these gifts bring some natural trait to perfection. Counsel perfects the virtue of prudence. It is prudence that enables us to judge what we should do in a difficult situation, what is right and what is wrong. Then fortitude is the perfect courage that enables us to actually do the difficult good, or say “no” to the easy evil. That’s because the easy path often leads to sin, guilt, shame and death. That’s the worst version of myself, and of your self.

St. Paul is not known for political correctness. But his words are exactly what we need to hear today. Our times are evil, just as his were. In fact, these times may be more evil, because we now have governments telling us that goodness is evil and evil is good. We have to exercise wisdom at every moment, because every secular influence seems to lead us down the wrong path. The will of the Lord is directed only toward our good. When God defined marriage as one man and one woman committed to each other for life, for mutual support and the procreation of children, He did that because it is best for the man, the woman, the children and society as a whole. When God made our reproductive systems, He designed them perfectly for that kind of family. How do we know this? Because whenever we have tinkered with that perfect design, with that wonderful starship to heaven, the ship has crashed. Divorce, adultery, premarital sex, homosexual deviance, in-vitro fertilization, contraception and abortion have each contributed to the unholy mess that Western civilization has fallen into.

So let’s put on our wisdom cap for a few minutes and consider what happens when we don’t listen to the words of St. Paul, and the consistent teaching of the Church. Let’s zero in on the top five party schools, as listed on a popular website: Tulane in New Orleans, UC Santa Barbara, University of Georgia, Ohio University and the University of Iowa. What does it mean to be a party school? St. Paul saw it almost two thousand years ago, “getting drunk, leading to debauchery.” That’s students in their late teens and early twenties illegally drinking beer and wine and hard spirits, using psychotropic drugs, and using the marital act outside marriage. At best, it leads to ferocious hangovers. At worst, it brings STD’s, pregnancy, and the murder of not-born children. In every case, it leads to faces that, in biblical language, “blush with shame.” Science tells us why it is particularly wrong to do this at that age: the frontal lobe, where we make our decisions, doesn’t develop fully until our mid-twenties. And alcohol and drugs mess with the development of that decision-making center. So you make a bad decision, a self-destructive decision, and its effect on your brain leads you to make worse decisions.

I’ll tell you a story that I wish I hadn’t heard, and probably shouldn’t have heard when I did. It was over twenty years ago, I was waiting in a family waiting area in a local hospital for the results of a family member’s surgical procedure. A young man was in one corner, and a middle-aged couple was on the other side of the room. A surgeon in scrubs came out to talk to the couple, who I realized were the mother and father of the girl the doctor had operated on. The young man stood off to the side, and he had a face that was laden with shame. The doctor explained the results of the girl’s surgery, and with my scientific education I knew what had happened. The boy had given their daughter a disease that had attacked her reproductive system and, after the surgery, left her forever unable to bear children. I will never forget the looks on their faces. What tragedy came from what we today call a “hookup.” But maybe “hookup” is the right word for it, when a boy and a girl treat each other like objects, like two cattle cars on a rail line.

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